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From Our Library

From Our Library

From Our Library

August/September 2019 issue of American Craft magazine
Author Staff
Cyclepedia cover
Mark LaFavor

Cyclepedia: 90 Years of Modern Bicycle Design
By Michael Embacher
Thames & Hudson, $20

A bicycle is a beautiful object, all balance and proportion, round wheels offsetting the straight lines of the frame. That elegance speaks to Michael Embacher, author of Cyclepedia: 90 Years of Bicycle Design: “My fascination with the bicycle is with the simplicity of the idea – efficiently transforming human energy into maximum mobility – and how this translates into design,” he writes in the introduction.

This updated edition (the book was originally published in 2011) includes 15 more bicycles from the author’s vast collection. Embacher covers everything from sleek racing and touring models to bikes that fold or disassemble to surprising designs that can curl into themselves like pill bugs or don’t include a seat. More than 100 bikes are highlighted, accompanied by exquisite, almost taxonomic photography. Flipping through the pages will make you long for what fashion designer and avid cyclist Paul Smith longingly refers to in the foreword as “the freedom that cycling and the open road gives you.” ~Robert O’Connell

Mexico, Masks | Rituals
By Phyllis Galembo
Radius Books, $45

In the introduction to Phyllis Galembo’s stunning bilingual book of photographs of ritual adornment, Sergio Rodríguez-Blanco bemoans how an object’s connection to deeply meaningful religious and social practices can become emptied of its significance. “A consumerist society tends to de-ritualize and exoticize any object,” he writes.

Galembo’s portraits work as correctives. Her lens captures masks from across Mexico, worn by members of the communities for whom they hold meaning: the Purépecha people observing Los Reyes Magos (King’s Day, when the three wise men visited Jesus), the farming communities of Oaxaca celebrating Catholic saints’ days. The handmade masks themselves are beautiful and endlessly evocative, but they are all the more powerful for being situated on a living body, not sealed behind a museum’s glass. ~Robert O’Connell

Podcast series by

This 24-episode series of interviews with makers is refreshingly diverse in just about every aspect – age, ethnicity, medium, focus. The makers range from midcareer artists such as Roberto Lugo and Susie Ganch to longtime eminences such as Tom Joyce and Cynthia Schira; the five traditional mediums get their due, but so do the increasing use of digital applications to the handmade.

Inspiration and the creative process are, unsurprisingly, common subjects among the makers, but they also venture further afield, exploring wider issues such as sexism, social class, and ethical production.

The series is produced by a consortium of five craft schools and hosted by Stuart Kestenbaum, who led one of the schools, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, for 27 years; his low-key, thoughtful approach fits the format perfectly. While the series will clearly interest professionals in the field, its overarching theme is universal: what making means to us as human beings, and why it matters. ~Judy Arginteanu